May 23, 2009

West Bengal shelves plan for Kharagpur city centre

KOLKATA: The Left Front government in West Bengal is likely to be more circumspect in acquiring land for industries and infrastructure development projects, in the light of the Lok Sabha election debacle.

The Cabinet, which met on Thursday for the first time after the results were declared, decided to set aside, for now, plans for creating a city centre on 120 acres at Kharagpur in Paschim Medinipur district, after some ministers expressed reservations about the project.

Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee told his Cabinet colleagues that there was need for more details of the nature of land, and for an assessment of job opportunities the project would generate.

It was also decided that the Land Use Board, tasked with the preparation of a map delineating land-use patterns, be brought under the Land and Land Reforms Department, instead of the Industries and Commerce Department.

Leaders of the Left parties and some ministers felt that the political implications of the debate on acquisition of farmland for industries were evident in the poll outcome. Apprehensions of land-grabbing seemed to have weighed heavily on the minds of the rural electorate, especially the minorities, and affected the Left Front’s performance.

That State-specific issues played a critical role in the elections, despite the wave across much of the country in favour of a stable secular government at the Centre, has been underscored by the leadership of the all Left parties in a preliminary assessment of the results.

To ensure a political consensus on the issues on hand, it was decided that the Chief Minister prepare a note on all works awaiting implementation in the next two years of the government’s term.

The note would be placed before the Cabinet after discussions by its core committee so that the ministers representing the various Front constituents could order their priorities and determine their line of action.


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